I promised myself I’d read all the books I own already that I haven’t read before I’d re-read books I’ve already read. I’ve stuck to that for a while, although I keep buying new books and reading those, leaving way too many unread books on my shelves.
The problem is, although I bought those books for a reason — they looked interesting at the time, they just don’t interest me anymore. At least not right now. And some were gifts and never really interested me at all. So I haven’t been reading and I’ve missed it terribly.
Finally, last weekend I broke down and pulled a Sydney Sheldon off the shelf. I’ve read every Sydney Sheldon book at least once, and some three or four or five times over the years. They’re trashy. Really trashy. They’re full of sensationalistic stories and deviant sex. I’m no prude, but if you’ve ever read a Sheldon novel, you know what I’m talking about.
Basically, they’re not great literature.
But man, oh man!, can he tell a story. Well, could. He died a few years ago. And his last novel was not good. In fact, reading it made me wonder if he was ever very good or if I was just young and didn’t know any better. I got my answer this week: He was that good.
The plots engage and the writing style flows in a way that makes a 500 page novel feel like 100 pages. Readers get lost in worlds of espionage, intrigue, excitement.
I’d also been avoiding Sheldon lately because it’s not sophisticated reading. I’ve been devouring classics lately, some that deserve the category and some that don’t. But either way, it’s supposed to make me look and feel smarter to say I’ve read them. Sheldon was beneath me.
I think I’m going to read through all the books again. Or most of them, anyway. The early novels were better than the later ones and I’m not sure I feel the need or desire to revisit his sub par work.
But more than the enjoyment of the books is the inspiration they bring me as an artist. I admire Sheldon’s storytelling abilities. There are reasons his novels were best-sellers. He had what I want. I don’t want to copy him, but I think I have a lot to learn from him and I’m trying to apply that knowledge.
I’ll return to the classics one of these days. For now, it’s all about the fun.